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Travel to Bilbao

Flying to Bilbao

Airlines operating flights to Bilbao from the UK include easyJet, British Airways and Vueling Airlines. Flights are generally quite cheap but it’s best to book in advance to avoid price hikes during major holidays such as Christmas. For cheaper flights, an alternative route is to fly to nearby Santander with Ryanair and complete the journey to Bilbao by bus or train.

Flight times

From London - 2 hours; New York - 10 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Los Angeles - 13 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Toronto - 11 hours 15 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 28 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Bilbao traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18 years old. Speed limits are 120kph (74mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on major roads and 50kph (31mph) within towns, unless otherwise stated. A valid driving licence and third-party insurance are required to drive in Spain. National licences from EU countries are accepted, although drivers are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit. A Green Card is strongly recommended for all visitors, although it is not compulsory if bringing your car from another EU country.

You can obtain motoring information from Real Automóvil Club de España (tel: +34 900 100 992;

Emergency breakdown services

Real Automóvil Club de España (tel: 900 112 222, in Spain).


A network of motorways and highways converge on Bilbao. You can reach the city via the A8, which is connected to San Sebastian and the French border at Irun, and by the A68, which joins with Barcelona and the A7 along the Mediterranean coast. Bilbao is connected to Burgos by the A68 and to Valladolid by the Autovía de Castilla (Castile Freeway). From there the Autovia del Norte (Northern Freeway) leads to Madrid. Bilbao is connected to Santander by the Autovía del Cantábrico (Cantabrian Freeway).


Bilbao's main bus station is the bus terminal Termibús, next to the exchange station of San Mamés. Termibús connects with the San Mamés metro station, the tramway and the Renfe short-distance rail lines.

ALSA ( runs to most of the cities in Spain and has routes between Bilbao and many of the major cities across Europe.

PESA (tel: +34 902 121 400; operates the bus connection between Bilbao and San Sebastian, while La Union (tel: +34 94 427 1111; operates the routes from Vitoria, Pamplona and Logroño. Bizkaibus (tel: +34 902 222 265; is a bus network connecting Bilbao to all the districts in Vizcaya.

Time to city

From San Sebastián - 1 hour 10 minutes; Santander - 1 hour 10 minutes; Burgos - 1 hour 40 minutes; Valladolid - 2 hours 45 minutes; Madrid - 4 hours; Barcelona - 5 hours 45 minutes.

Travel by Rail


Bilbao is well connected to other cities in Spain by an extensive rail network, which is regular, reliable and modern. The city has three railway stations: Abando station, located at Plaza Circular 2, La Concordia station at Calle Bailén 2 and Atxuri station at Calle Atxuri 6-8. All are within the city and walking distance from the old and new towns.


Renfe (tel: +34 902 320 320;, Spain's national railway company, offers services from Abando station to a range of destinations including Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Valladolid. Renfe has also integrated the former Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha (FEVE) network, otherwise known as the Spanish Narrow Gauge Railway, which runs from Concordia station to Santander and León.

Euskotren (tel: +34 902 543 210;, operated by the Basque government, offers services from Atxuri station, connecting with Durango, San Sebastian and the coast of Biscay via Gernika and Bermeo.

Journey times

From Barcelona - 6 hours 50 minutes; Madrid - 4 hours 55 minutes; Valladolid - 3 hours 45 minutes; Zaragoza - 4 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by boat

The Puerto de Bilbao (Port of Bilbao) is 21km (13 miles) northwest of the city in the small fishing village of Santurtzi.

Ferry operators

Brittany Ferries (tel: +44 330 159 7000; links Bilbao with Portsmouth in the UK. There are several services weekly, departing from the Terminal de Brittany Ferries at Puerto de Bilbao. The crossing lasts between 28 and 33 hours.


Travelling by car, take the N644 from the port onto the AP-8, which runs directly to Bilbao. Line 2 of the Bilbao Metro also runs to the port area. Santurtzi is the final stop on the northbound route.

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Featured Hotels



This budget offering is clean and comfortable and offers a good buffet breakfast. Situated in a fairly central location, in downtown Bilbao, there are a slew of funky rooms to choose from, all of which have been decorated to represent a different building in the city. Most points of interest are within walking distance and the hotel itself runs a photography tour of Bilbao. Other extras include bicycle rental, ironing and laundry services, TVs in rooms, free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour bar. It also has a secure garage for those travelling with vehicles.

Iturrienea Ostatua

Iturrienea Ostatua is a pension in Bilbao's Old Town that's chock-a-block with colour and character. It has restored antique furniture throughout and great attention to detail has been paid to the decoration of the 21 bedrooms. The lovely exposed stone walls and oak beams give this place its charm and all in all, it represents very good value. In decent weather, breakfast can be served in the garden.

Miró Hotel Bilbao

Devised by famous fashion couturier, Antonio Miró, this modern boutique hotel combines functional design and personalised service to great effect. It's a tasteful establishment with great views of Bilbao, and it offers guests access to its spas and gym on a complimentary basis. There are 50 minimalistic rooms to pick from and many come with views of the Guggenheim. All, though, have large TVs, colossal beds and chic marble bathrooms.

Hotel Bilbao Jardines

This pleasant, comfortable and reasonably priced 2-star hotel is located in the heart of the historical centre of Bilbao, next to the cathedral and the Arriaga Theatre. It offers good service, spectacularly clean rooms and a very relaxed ambience, so the dated quilts and covers can be easily overlooked. What's more, most rooms come with a bath and shower and have decent sized TVs. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.

Hotel Lopez de Haro

A favourite with celebrities, up to and including the Dalai Lama, this is one of the best top-class hotels in Bilbao. You’ll find free Wi-Fi, a complimentary gym-spa, a champagne bar and an opulent selection of rooms and suites. The location, too, is handy for the city centre and the Guggenheim Museum. The staff are incredibly helpful, the breakfast is excellent and the soft drinks and chocolates in the mini-bar are included in the price.

Hotel Carlton

A favourite of Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner and many a bullfighter, Hotel Carlton is a Bilbao institution. It is set in a grand neoclassical building with a restaurant and a 1930s-style bar. Drenched in history (it was the Euskadi government's headquarters during the Civil War), it's a splendid and very elegant hotel. Discount prices are available online if you book well in advance.